We wade through the Mother's Day books so you don't have to.

How to be the best consumer you can be.
May 11 2007 5:15 PM

Mother-Load

We wade through the Mother's Day books so you don't have to.

(Continued from Page 1)
Motherhood Is Not for Sissies

Books about other people's cute kids: Again, this may be a matter of personal taste. Clearly somebody is buying these. But all the many, many books that celebrate motherhood with cute pictures of other people's babies strike me as strange. Because every mother worth her salt thinks her kids are far cuter than those in Motherhood Is Not for Sissies, or the funny little moppets in the Baby-gami wraps. Same goes for books full of cute sayings from other people's children: I love the idea behind Why We Love Moms. Little ones do say the darndest things. But since we all secretly believe that our own kids are even handsomer and say even cuter things, the only purpose of such books is to highlight the fact that our own extremely cute and witty children actually need a haircut.

Homework books: The Barnes & Noble tables groan under piles of journals and scrapbooks that one is meant to give one's mom to fill out, perhaps once she's finished putting the boots and mittens away. One example is Motherhood: A Guided Journal (it comes with a 60-minute CD of inspiring music). But there are dozens more out there. Pass on these, even though the thought is a nice one. The last thing Mom needs on Mother's Day is homework. After all, she already has yours to finish.

Advertisement

With the do-not-buy list out of the way, let's launch into some books that might work for your Mother's Day gift, so long as you recognize that at bottom, many of these ask Mom to change. Depending largely on her tolerance for escapism—and bearing in mind that Brad Pitt is allegedly back in play—perhaps the perfect Mother's Day book could remake your mother into one of the following:

Living the Posh Mom Life

The Sex in the City mom: Scores of books feature the ubiquitous chick-lit pink cover and the ubiquitous chick-lit black-line drawings of skinny moms in boots with a clever little line drawing of baby on her hip. If your mom wants to indulge fantasies of being one of a posse of "warrior women ... with chic hair, well-toned triceps in tiny tees" who lunch on salads and serve on charity boards, Living the Posh Mom Life is for her. Ditto The Hot Mom's Handbook.

Gift From the Sea

The Summers in Nantucket mom: If Mom dreams of J. Crew seersucker flapping in an ocean breeze, there are scads of sweet books out there referencing the need for summers on the Cape and trips to a crab shack. She'll enjoy The Fun Book for Moms, even if there are no lobster huts in Denver. Same with Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From the Sea, still my all-time favorite book about mothering, ever. 

The Food Channel mom: Lots o' cookbooks on the Just for Mom tables, I think because the one area of "self-improvement" that still feels like pure porn for most moms is cooking. So I say bring 'em on. Bring 'em, bring 'em, bring 'em. Keep your Brad, Angelina. Real moms heart Jacques Pepin.

Everyday Blessings

The Buddha mamma: Perhaps because they are the only books that don't try to change us (or, to put it as the Buddha might, because they are the only books that acknowledge that everything changes), I'm a sucker for the Zen mothering books. There's a lovely new book called Mommy Mantras that distills—in small read-while-they're-bathing units—great wisdom about the madness and mindfulness of parenting. Same for the wonderful Blessings of a Skinned Knee, as well as Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn's Everyday Blessings. (I confess here that if Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote a book about starting up my own dude ranch, I would read that, too.)

Now, I'm no Buddhist, but it does seem to me that the greatest cliché of motherhood, "I don't need anything but you, my darlings," is also one of its great truths. If I've learned anything from my own mom, it's that 99 percent of Mother's Day is reveling in the clichés: the tea with milk and lemon we'd reverently serve up each May; the weird Taurus necklace we bought one year (she's a Sagittarius), and the Krystle Carrington beaded sweater we got her the next. So, even if you bring us weird sex books or auto-repair books with the soggy cereal and the buttercup, all we really do need is you. But maybe, maybe this year, you'll let us sleep in 'til 8:25 before you do.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.